Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Enough of driving around Italy having lunch at fancy restaurants. It's time to get back to the contadino life.

This is compost made from household waste which the local refuse company sell for €16.50 a ton which is great value and good recycling.

This is destined to improve the soil in the garden and the veg garden.

Monte Subasio

This is the view from the top of Monte Subasio - 1920 metres above sea level. Here we are looking north towards the Sibillini mountains in the Marche.

The summit is wild and above the tree line and is very good blast of nature at its most basic. As was the north east wind on Sunday.

Assisi lies of the lower slopes of Subasio and on the way down we stopped at the forest hermitage of San Francesco which was an oasis of tranquility. Well worth a stop outside of the summer months if you are around.

On the way back we stopped for lumnch at Il Molino in Spello. The food here was, as always, very good but all the waiting staff seemed to be suffering from what I call public interface fatigue.  A shame but nonetheless our lunch was excellent.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Company away day

Rachel and myself climbed in the company Panda and headed to Todi which is about an hours drive west of here.

The countryside soon changes from our olive dominated landscape to the vine covered hills of Montefalco and surrounds and then to the gentler more Tuscan type landscape around Todi itself.

Rachel checked out a exhibition while I had a meeting and then we had lunch at the Antica Hosteria della Valle which we can highly recommend should you be in the area.

Monday, January 23, 2012

First of the year

Yes, it was the first farmers market of the year in Trevi yesterday. Cold and not a good time to be selling olive oil but hey you gotta try. And I did sell some so yet another house in Italy has Casa Margherita olive oil on the table. The battle is just begun.

Anyway I immediately invested some of my profits in this string of onions. Wouldn't it be great if you buy onions like this at your supermarket. They look good in the kitchen as well

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Dung circles

A grove roundabouts where the owner has speed dung in a very neat circle under the trees thus ring the grove a manicured look so it could be a municipal garden somewhere.

I could be catty and say the circle should spread to the edge of the canopy as this is where the roots are but I will desist.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The pruner's fires

This was taken this morning and already you can see the air filled with the smoke from the fires of the pruners. They are burning their clipping this both to keep the olive grove tidy and also to keep warm as the morning temperature is around minus 7 °c at the moment.

This is a bit too fresh for me. I don't think I'll start pruning until the end of February.

Whilst I do have some fires I prefer to shred my clipping which rot down over the next 12 months providing me with a great mulch which I use as ground cover/compost in the garden.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


This afternoon was spent chainsawing down an oak tree and the cutting it into logs, burning the discarded branches and storing away the logs so that they can dry over the summer.

It was a lovely sunny winter's day and so enjoyable to be outside although the muscles will ache tonight.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Extra virgin?

There is an interesting piece in today's Guardian newspaper about the level of fraud in the olive oil business. See the whole article below.

The writer makes an interesting point about how to tell if an oil is evtra virgin - "But true extra virgin oil is peppery – it bites the back of the throat so fiercely it can make you cough. The flavours are vivid. "Peppery" is an official, positive attribute of "extra virgin" whereas smoothness will reliably indicate a low-quality oil."

This, and I do not lie, is how Casa Margherita olive oil tastes - it has a bite. So be sure of your supply and buy from Casa Margherita. No dodgyness here.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Taking care of your roots

As I have previously blogged, olive grove owners here in Italy have been incentivised to cut down olive trees so as to make picking easier for the ageing olive growers. Logic being, fewer trees less onerous the task.

I know what some of you might be thinking. Does this increase the amount of oil Italy imports from Spain and others and bottles up as made in Italy? I cannot possible say.

Some of my neighbours here in Manciano have taken this route.

One of the risks however is that when you rip the other trunks out with a small digger then you can weaken the tree irreversibly and so the trunk left dies as you can see below from a grove above Casa Margherita.

Monday, January 2, 2012


Back to the DHL office again today to send off some adoption packages and the agent showed us a new DHL sign he is going to put up at the entrance to the industrial where the office is located.

We said oh there's a tax on signage isn't there and he said yes there was - €300 per annum. He wasn't going to pay it as the fine for non payment was only €50.

I love it here.